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'Covers the campus like the magnolias'
"Covers the campus like the magnolias"

Old Gold & Black

"Covers the campus like the magnolias"

Old Gold & Black

Friends and family honor Zoe Clay at memorial service

Those close to Clay say the late alum will be remembered for their love and acceptance of others
Zoe Clay is pictured running in a drawing (Courtesy of Ashley Bastron).

Zoe Clay (‘22), was honored in a memorial service hosted on Saturday, Oct. 28 where Zoe’s friends and family spoke about their character. Clay, 23, died in a cycling accident on Oct. 8

The memorial service began with a few of Zoe’s closest friends and family members speaking about their impact on the world around them. Will Hardin, Zoe’s boyfriend, said Zoe had a way of “touching souls.” He said their father called them a “soul donor.” Because of this quality, he said that he was not surprised by the amount of people who gathered to celebrate them. 

After the remarks, the attendees walked down a dirt trail to a small pond. Each person had a lantern with pictures of Zoe taped to them, as well as different types of wildflowers. They placed the lanterns on the top of the water and the flowers on a memorial created by the family. On the trees around the pond, the family hung pictures of Zoe when they were all ages. Everyone stopped to look at the photos and used them as a conversation starter about the moments they shared with Zoe.

The memorial was hosted on a property in Winston-Salem that encompassed Zoe perfectly according to Ashley Bastron, associate head coach of Wake Forest’s cross country team. It was a place Zoe used to spend a lot of time running and biking.

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“I thought it was beautiful,” Bastron said of the memorial. “I think it’s perfect that it’s outdoors and in nature, and that we had to walk down a trail to a body of water. You can just tell how very loved Zoe was.”

These trails are also where the GP Zoe Clay memorial bike race was held on Sunday, Oct. 29. This event was planned by members of their cycling community, and the proceeds will benefit girls and young women’s cycling. 

Zoe was loved by many people during their life and time at Wake Forest, and they will continue to be celebrated by those whose lives they touched. The memorial organized by their family displayed an outpouring of support from the community to which they meant so much. 

The legacy of Zoe will live on through telling their story. The attendees stayed after for light refreshments and to share in their favorite memories of Zoe. Cade Bickmore and Savana Dehning looked back on their friendship with them — they had met Zoe at a cycling race at the beginning of this year and quickly bonded. Dehning said that Zoe was comforting, accepting and welcoming. 

I thought it was beautiful. I think it’s perfect that it’s outdoors and in nature, and that we had to walk down a trail to a body of water. You can just tell how very loved Zoe was.

— Ashley Bastron, Assistant Cross Country/Track & Field Coach

“It is me, Zoe and Will [Hardin] — we were like the elite squad,” Bickmore said as he reflected on their trip to Arizona, a trip they all took three weeks prior to their crash.

Jon Hamblen, the club cycling coach at Wake Forest, explained how he recruited Zoe to be on his team.

“I saw Zoe riding on campus, and I was telling everybody, ‘Who is this person on the bike who is riding around and looks like they know what they’re doing?’” Hamblen said. “‘We’ve got to bring this person on the team.’”

Hamblen expressed the large impact Zoe had on his life. 

“In a short amount of time, we became really tight, like Zoe does with everybody,” he said. “It was so easy, and I learned a lot from Zoe.” 

Zoe was able to make a real impact on the people in their life. Such a legacy was displayed by the sense of community at Zoe’s memorial that honored their impact on the people around them.

“I hope people realize how a good person can really affect so many people,” Hamblen said. “We didn’t even get this together until maybe seven days ago, and all these people showed up. I’m still taking this all in.”

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